More than two hours long. Three sets. One long tiebreaker. A classic state tournament match.
Unfortunately for Durango High School’s Eva-Lou Edwards, she came up just a bit short.
Edwards, who plays tennis for DHS because Bayfield High School doesn’t have a tennis program, was edged 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-3 by Shelby Cerkovnik of Regis Jesuit on Day 1 at the state tournament. It was a marathon first-round match at No. 1 singles at the CHSAA Class 4A Girls Tennis State Championships on Thursday at Pueblo City Park.
At No. 2 singles, Ellen Southworth fell 6-0, 6-0 to Haley Chrico of Regis Jesuit in the first round. Southworth now must wait to see if Chrico makes the finals; Chrico qualified for this morning’s semifinal with a win over Katherine Lin of Peak to Peak, and if she wins, then Southworth is in the playback bracket.
Edwards was not so fortunate. Cerkovnik’s three-set loss to Cheyenne Mountain’s Lauren Renjard means Edwards’ tournament is over.
A two-time state qualifier and regional champion, Edwards battled Cerkovnik through a long first set on into the second, where the two players traded service breaks over the final seven games to pull even at 6-6.
Cerkovnik went up 4-1 in the tiebreaker, which goes to seven but must be won by two.
Edwards pulled even at five, then again at six before pulling away for a 9-7 win in the tiebreaker.
“I thought the momentum swing (would push her), and Eva-Lou just finds ways to win,” said DHS head coach Dave Weisfeldt, coaching his final state tournament before retirement.
“That’s the pattern of her play. So I don’t get all that nervous when she falls behind. ... She just didn’t have every weapon in the arsenal (Thursday).”
Edwards jumped out to a 2-1 lead by holding serve twice in the decisive set, but Cerkovnik rallied to take the next four games. Durango’s sophomore southpaw broke serve to stay alive, but the Regis Jesuit junior returned the favor in the next game to seal the match.
Edwards did her best to keep Cerkovnik on the move, but even then, Cerkovnik pulled out enough quality shots to steal a handful of points.
“(Cerkovnik) played a hell of a match,” Wesifeldt said.
Edwards, last year’s fifth-place finisher at No. 1 singles as a freshman, declined comment after the match.
The opening set was full of breaks, with Cerkovnik holding serve just twice and Edwards only once. Cerkovnik took a quick 4-2 lead in the set before Edwards rallied to square the set at 4.
Cerkovnik, however, was too much the next two games, and she pulled out the victory.
Southworth ran into a buzzsaw in the first round in Chrico. The Durango senior said her opponent’s intelligent play made her difficult to conquer.
“She knew where she was putting the ball and put spin on it. She was good,” said Southworth, daughter or Robin Lucie and Scott Southworth.
The Demons’ No. 2 singles player – in her second trip to state – said she was happy with her ability to play at the net while disappointed in her ability to put together anything with her ground strokes.
Regardless of the result, Southworth’s goal was to get to state for a second consecutive year, and she was happy to have met it.
Now, she awaits her fate.
“It feels really good. This is where I wanted to get, so once I was here, it was all about fun,” Southworth said. “The pressure’s off.”